musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: June 2019

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Spreading the Word Through Song

photo by J. Stoller

photo by J. Stoller

Do you love traditional string music? Appreciate some finely executed a capella? Look no further! If you’re a bluegrass fan and you haven’t heard of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, where have you been? With deep roots in the Tennessee-bred gospel tradition, this extremely talented and powerfully spiritual bluegrass band has released almost 40 albums in as many years. Over the years, they’ve been bestowed with many awards, and their leader Doyle Lawson (mandolin and vocals) was inducted in the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2012. But don’t take others’ words for it. Have a listen for yourself.

Lawson is joined by Josh Swift (Dobro/Vocals), Stephen Burwell (Fiddle) , Eli Johnston (Bass/Vocals), Dustin Pyrtle (Guitar/Vocals) and Joe Dean (Banjo/Vocals), and they sound like they’ve been playing together for, well, 40 years! Doyle Lawson was raised on The Grand Ole Opry and was a big fan of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys. The entire family sang gospel music and were involved in various church and revival a capella groups. He taught himself to play mandolin, playing along to radio, records and TV shows.

When Lawson was 14, he added banjo and guitar to his musical toolbox, and began playing banjo professionally in Nashville four years later. He’s played with Jimmy Martin, JD Crowe and The Country Gentlemen, settling back into mandolin to accompany his tenor vocals. In 1979, he formed his own band, which he first called Doyle Lawson & Foxfire before changing “Foxfire” to “Quicksilver.”

Through the many member changes through the years, Lawson’s Quicksilver band has been, in his words, “the farm team for bluegrass.” He has tried to integrate each member’s unique talents into the band, without sacrificing their core wholesome Americana sound. One constant has been the strong inspiration and influence of gospel music on their work and lives. Lawson believes that it is his “musical mission” to bring God to people’s lives through his work. Whatever your personal beliefs are, there is no denying the deep soulful sound of this fine band.

Listen to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver on Spotify or Pandora.

web | facebook | twitter | instagram | soundcloud | youtube | Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Mark 25 Years in Bluegrass

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The Bing Brothers featuring Jake Krack and their old-time tradition

The Bing Brothers' Hoedown - photo by J. Stoller

The Bing Brothers’ Hoedown – photo by J. Stoller

What’s better than an old-timey string band? An old-timey string band at a hoedown! When The Bing Brothers perform, it’s a participatory event. Hailing from Marlinton and Huntington, West Virginia, the serious jams of this 100% authentic old-time string band naturally lends itself (I would say demands) a country square dance complete with caller. Old time music is a rural American string band tradition that was born in Colonial times from the meeting of the African banjo and European fiddle. These traditional continue today in Appalachian mountain communities.


The Bing Brothers Featuring Jake Krack “Handsome Molly” live @ Appalachian Rising ’13 – by Christopher Harper

Mike and Tim Bing first played together, on mandolin and banjo, in 1974. They had grown up raising hogs, with music a key part of their lives, from singing on their family’s porch to seeing legendary Flatt & Scroggs perform locally.

They built up a large repertoire of old-time music and 40 years later, they’re still going strong. Tim has been named West Virginia State Champion on the banjo for 14 years, and Mike is founder of Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops, teaching traditional music for 22 years. They’ve been recognized by the state for their lifetime contribution to West Virginia’s traditional culture.

Since 2002, The Bing Brothers has featured Bob Lieving on guitar and Tim Corbett on bass. Jake Krack has been their fiddler since 2010, and the band is a four-time winner of Best All Around Performer at the Galax Old Fiddler’s Convention. They’ve toured the U.S. and Canada, Europe and Australia, and even performed on Broadway. They’re extremely versatile, playing songs in old time and bluegrass, in addition to traditional Irish songs and ragtime pieces.

facebook | national folk festival | cd baby | spotify

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It’s Not Because of You: Jonas Brøg and his personal struggle

JonasBrog2

Depression doesn’t just affect the individual who suffers from it. The illness might begin on the inside, but it radiates itself outward to envelop everyone around them. Those closest to the person bear the brunt of this the hardest, as they struggle to be understanding, supportive, and above all, to know that they are in no way responsible. As Danish artist Jonas Brøg explains in his latest song, “It’s Not Because of You,”

My family has been hit the hardest when depression became part of our world. When I struggle mentally I don’t love, and I can’t be loved. On these days it’s best I’m in solitude, but thankfully I can write songs when I’m alone, and this one I wrote for my family, the ones I know I love the most. I feel the importance for them to know, It’s not because of you!

I quiet the dark, not because, settle the dust, not because
Fading to black, not because, no it’s not because of you
Walking the line, not because, little to give, not because
Losing the plot not because, no it’s not because of you

This emerging songwriter began as a drummer, playing with Sister Sledge, Roy Hargrove, Dutch bands Relax and Beef, and UK band Westlife. He also produced works by other artists, until depression hit. To make sense of what he was experiencing and to better express his feelings, he began to sing his own songs. His first release, “Tell Me Why,” which came out in the summer of last year, was his cry for help.

Music, lyrics and song production for “It’s Not Because of You” is by Brøg, inspired by quiet walks in the early morning. He’s joined on strings by Frank van Essen, and by Sven Hammond (hammond) and Kim Ormel (keys). Jonas’ wife Kim filmed the video, during their road trip through the South of Italy.

Listen to “Not Because of You” on Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer.

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rtor.org – Mental Health Resources and Addiction Resources

rtor-org_logo

Personal History and My Idea

At some point in my musings about musicians and other contemplations, I had the idea to compile a clearinghouse of resources for those suffering from mental health issues. This didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. My mom struggled with bipolar disorder for most of her life, incorrectly diagnosed until her early 50s, and it’s something we lived with as a family. My dad, while supporting her, dealt with his own anxiety and worry issues and now, I proudly carry on that unwelcomed family tradition. For those who are interested in our personal story, you can see my essay on the Depression Army blog, “Transcending the Sad Circus: Caring for Someone with Bipolar Disorder.”

Resources to Recover – Gateway to Mental Health Services

In researching for my mental health directory, which I envisioned would start with Massachusetts, where I am based, and eventually encompass all of the Northeast and then the rest of the U.S., I came across rtor.org, Resources to Recover – Gateway to Mental Health Services. They provide information about the various mental health maladies, including depression and anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They also have a comprehensive directory of mental health providers, by state, in addition to residential facilities, educational information, financial services and more. They have an advisory board of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, and seem eminently qualified to be doing this.

As I’m a firm believer of not re-inventing the wheel, I’ll outline what they have available, say a few words about where Massachusetts sits in the confusing sea of uneven coverage for mental health treatment across the U.S, and leave it at that. I include substance abuse and addiction treatment, since it’s often related to mental health issues, or at the least, it’s almost always linked to mental health in terms of state coverage (or lack thereof).

State-By-State Mental Health Provider Directory

If you go to their Provider Directory, type just your state into the search form and click “Filter,” you’ll get a list of healthcare providers and facilities for that state. Drilling down further gives you a profile of the person or place, along with services, focus, patient quotes — and in the case of doctors, education, certifications and payment information, including what types of insurance they accept. It’s quite incredible.

In addition to filtering on state, you can filter on provider type and client focus. You can also select “Location Search” and do a map-based search based on your address or zip code. Even better.

Mental Health Resources and Statistics by State

One very useful thing that isn’t advertised, nor can I find a place where you can directly access all of them, is that if you go to rtor.org/directory/mental-health-[your state]/ (all lower case and use dashes if you need to, like rhode-island), you’ll get a page that provides general information about the state in terms of mental health and substance abuse support.

It begins with the population, population density, percentage of adults living with a serious mental health condition and percentage of those receiving treatment. Mental health statistics are courtesy of SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The state’s ranking in terms of mental health access is provided by Mental Health America. There’s also brief information about Medicaid, with a link to the state website for information. The page finishes with important links for that state.

Massachusetts Mental Health Resources

If you or a loved one is dealing with a mental health or substance abuse issue, be glad if you live in Massachusetts. Though we’re at the top of the heap in terms of population density (any commuter can tell you that), we also rank near the top in providing access to mental health services. There’s a link to the Massachusetts Health Connector, the gateway to obtaining insurance according to your needs and means. They list state resources and help in finding an appropriate provider for your location and concern.

In A Perfect World — Universal Mental Health Care (and Substance Abuse Support)

I yearn for a day when people don’t have to figure out if something is covered based on where they live. The same goes for those of lesser means wondering if a condition is covered. Finding the right support and treatment for yourself, a friend or a family member, while you’re trying to deal with a mental health or addiction issue, can be a harrowing experience. However, rtor.org is admirably filling a badly needed role, in helping those with mental health and substance abuse issues navigate the jungle. I thank them for their work.

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